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Saucha and the art of purification

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Saucha is the first of the Niyamas, the personal code of ethics from Yoga Philosophy. The Niyamas introduce us to ways of practicing Yoga off our mats. As with the Yamas, or how we interact socially with the world around us (see the last five articles from Yoga Corner), now we move within, looking at new ideas for how we can better practice self-care.

The Sanskrit word Saucha translates as purity or cleanliness. In exploring this path, we find ways to purify ourselves: through our environment, our physical bodies and even our thoughts.

In looking at the space around us, it’s clear how clutter and excess stuff slow us down. Do yourself a big favour and clean out your closets. How long do you spend in the morning deciding what to wear because you can’t actually see all your clothes?

Same with the fridge. You dig around only to discover three bottles of the exact same hot sauce, or the peppers you forgot that are now rotten. My article on Aparigraha in the last issue of Optimyz Magazine had us looking at the stuff we accumulate through the lens of coveting or trying to prove ourselves.

Saucha will keep us honest through a clean environment. We will avoid excess because there simply is nowhere to put it. There is a reason Marie Kondo became so popular!

Through our physical body we are looking at keeping ourselves clean inside and out. While most of us maintain good personal hygiene, we must also consider that what
we eat becomes us. Whatever your diet preferences, start by avoiding processed foods and excess salt and sugar. Choose organic where possible. While many yogis tend towards a plant-based diet, if choosing meat-based products, look for ethically raised and organic.

We can be the cleanest person with the cleanest diet, but until we rein in our negative self-talk and become more aware of our thoughts, we will remain far from the concept of Saucha.

How often do you catch your thoughts placing judgment on yourself or others? What does that really accomplish? Negativity fuels more negativity, in thought, speech and action, while positivity fuels positivity. Practicing Saucha, focusing on the positive and letting go of judgment, helps us de-clutter our minds, bringing clarity, renewed energy and space for new growth and optimism.

Ideally, we are looking for what is considered a sattvic (pure) lifestyle, one that is based on keeping us in optimum health and wellbeing. In practicingSaucha, we have the opportunity to clear space, purifying our environment inside and out. This allows us to release the past, let go of negativity and create space for growth.

Think about how good we feel after tackling our overflowing closets. Let’s apply that to all areas of our life.

Author: Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT yoga therapist, has worked with countless individuals by using yoga to release trauma, find ease from chronic pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to Self: mind, body and spirit. She has over 750 hours of yoga education and logged 4000+ teaching hours. She is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer with canfitpro, and a Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) Global Ambassador.

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